Home California Tracy Police Department Set to Move to Encrypted Radio Channels

Tracy Police Department Set to Move to Encrypted Radio Channels

by ECT

The following release was issued by the Tracy Police Department on Thursday as they transition to encrypted radio channels.

Tracy, Calif. – On October 20, 2021, Tracy Police Department will be transitioning to encrypted radio channels in order to comply with California Department of Justice (CA DOJ) Information Bulletin #20-9-CJIS, requiring every law enforcement agency in the State comply with legal mandates and guidelines requiring the encryption of radio transmissions to protect sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Criminal Justice Information (CJI).

The purpose of the mandate is to protect the privacy and identity of any person, including victims of crime, whose information is broadcast over the police radio system.

Currently, Tracy Police Department operates on radio channels that are not encrypted, and anyone with a commercial scanner, a smartphone scanner application, or access to the internet can listen to police radio traffic and has access to the sensitive information being transmitted.

The Tracy Police Department is authorized by CA DOJ to access the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). This computer network provides law enforcement and criminal justice agencies with access to a variety of databases that contain data such as a person’s criminal history, criminal record, and driving record information. One way that the Tracy Police Department accesses CLETS information is through our police radio system.

An example of how the police department uses this system would be when an officer makes a traffic stop on a vehicle and needs to verify that the driver has a valid license and is not wanted. To accomplish this, the officer provides PII, most often from a driver’s license, over the radio to the Public Safety Dispatchers so they can verify the information in CLETS.

The Tracy Police Department evaluated potential alternatives, such as using a separate encrypted channel or cell phones to communicate protected information, but these alternatives would require additional staffing, may delay the sharing of time-sensitive safety information and impact situational awareness – both important for both officer and public safety. Tracy Police Department also consulted directly with CA DOJ on alternatives that would allow for continued us of our current radio channels without encryption; however, CA DOJ could not provide a solution that would not have potential impacts to the safety of officers and those we serve.

Once this radio system update takes place, the public will no longer be able to monitor Tracy Police Department radio communications. We recognize that this change may cause some concern, as it reduces public transparency. The Tracy Police Department will continue to keep the community informed of crime trends, police activity, and incidents of public interest in a timely fashion through TracyPD.com, our online Crime Mapping and our social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Nextdoor).

For Public Records Act Requests or obtain a copy of a police report, please contact Tracy Police Department’s Records Unit.

We will also continue our practice of emailing our daily press and arrest logs to the local media outlets who have requested them. To be added to this email distribution list, please send you request to Records Supervisor Alicia Carson: [email protected].

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